Sunday, October 26, 2008


During childhood, my father, at opportune times, would say to me, "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush".  This expression was one way he used to teach me about assessing risk, measuring rewards, and deciding contentment. 

Other times he told me, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch". He used this expression to warn me not to assume a certain outcome just because it seems apparent in the present moment.

During my adult life, I sometimes recall my father's words.  For example, when I've had a capital gain in a fluctuating investment, I sometimes used the "bird" expression to help me decide to "cash in" instead of waiting another day on the possibility of further gain. Sometimes my decision was wise, other times a delay would have meant more profit. 

I've used the "hatching chickens" expression to help learn patience, self control and to celebrate events only after they actually happen.

I realize it is proper to cheerlead and to rah rah rah fans in order to create a mood about possible outcomes.  But, John McCain, Barack Obama and their supporters should take note of my father's admonition about counting chickens.

I know that polling can predict outcomes to a high degree of accuracy. Multivariate Analysis, Analysis of Variance, Chi-Square, Probability Theory, and Statistical Confidence Limits are mathematical tools used to predict future behavior of populations and are applied to actions by people through statistical sampling of likely voters.  However, everyone should heed the wisdom in my father's words.

After November 4 when the election outcome is known, I plan to morally support whoever wins.  I plan no feelings of depression, no celebration, no fretting, no vocal critique or extolment to friends or other listeners about what went right or wrong.  I plan to work as usual, pay my taxes in full, and live life to the fullest.  I hope you will do likewise.

Have a good week! 

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Farewell To A Friend

My good friend, Sydney Clyde Tate, died last weekend at the age of 86. I knew Clyde most of my life.  He lived about 1.2 miles from me and for the past twenty-eight years he and I have been close.  I visited his home and farm severals times each year, usually in the summer. Other times we saw one another in a nearby diner where locals gather to visit, eat, or drink coffee.

I photographed Mr. Tate about six years ago before his health began to decline. He was standing in his barnyard when he posed for the picture above. For more than twenty years I rented his rake to roll sun-cured fescue into "windrows" in preparation for Clyde to follow with his tractor and baling machine to compress the forage into rectangular bales.  He provided these services to me for those years two or three times per summer.  This calculates to over 40 harvests of hay in which he helped.  He always was ready when I decided to harvest based on the weather and my office job vacation days.  It seemed that his schedule was whatever time I suggested.   He never put me off for another day or later week.  His cooperation was unique and I almost always paid him more than he requested.

The pictures below show the hay on my fields ready to bale in June 2003.  Click on the pictures to enlarge them for a closer view.

Clyde possessed a reputation of honesty, a responsible citizen, good neighbor, war veteran, unpretentious, and clean talk.  He was easily brought to smiles and laughter.  Neighborhood elementary school teachers sometimes brought students to his farm to ride ponies. Clyde worked hard throughout his life on the farm and later as a rural mail carrier.  His hands were big and rough with thick palms and large fingers.  

He liked people and people liked Clyde.  He enjoyed giving "Moon Star" watermelons to neighbors and friends which were grown in his gardens with other produce.

I will miss my friend and will always have fond memories of our relationship.

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Personal and Collective Behavior

When I look back in time, it's now unthinkable that I was a cigarette smoker and filled living space with a smoke clouds.  It was commonplace during the '50's and '60's for people to smoke in homes and inside cars.  Non smokers accepted it without too much complaining.  Today, if someone lit a cigarette in my home or car, I'd be appalled and you probably would also if it happened to you.

Looking back further in time, it's unimaginable that the United States and other developed countries conducted Operation Crossroads in 1946 and exploded two atomic bombs on the island of Bikini Atoll.  The natives were told that the island was needed to conduct an experiment to see what would happen.  The natives were coaxed into leaving their paradise. Dignitaries from around the world along with 42,000 sailors watched the explosions from aboard ships twenty miles away.  Afterwards, the Navy visited the site to assess damage to the island and to the parked ships offshore. Mass destruction and a radioactive environment were found and people from Bikini Atoll could not return home.

Currently, it's hard to imagine mortgage loans extended to people with no income, no job, and no assets.  They were called "NINGA" loans.  As a result of easy money, credit derivatives, shady accounting, profit at any social or human cost, greedy people throughout, the meltdown of the financial markets is underway.

I wonder what people will think in the future when our present era is reflected upon.  Are we behaving in ways currently that will be unimaginable when considered ten or twenty years from now? When people begin to experience life with a declining supply of oil,  they will probably say, "how could my parents' and grandparents' and their generations have been so shortsighted and so consumed with self and material things during their lives?"

Have a good week! 

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Does the new CEO, Robert Steel, of Wachovia Corp. know what he is doing?  A couple months ago he bought one million shares of Wachovia stock at $16.00 per share for a cost of $16 million dollars.  First, I don't understand how an average rich person can finance a sixteen million dollar purchase of stock.

Does Wachovia's Board know what it's doing?  Last weekend board members voted to sell the bank to Citigroup for $1.00 per share of common stock.  This past Friday the board apparently changed its mind and accepted a $7.00 per share offer for the bank by Wells Fargo.  It appears as if they voted while in panic last weekend.

It had been reported that Wachovia was discussing a merger with both Citigroup and Wells Fargo in the weeks leading up to weekend where the board of directors practically gave away the company to Citigroup at some predicted cost to the taxpayers.

I don't understand all I know about what is going on.

Have a good week!